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Discussion Starter #1
OK, so after years of bragging about "30 plus years, one horn", I have started wondering whether I would like to own a low A baritone. For reference, the 30+ years horn is a Conn 12M, from the immediate postwar period, in other words with rolled tone holes AND the front high F key. With this horn, and a Meyer #8 mouthpiece, I get a huge blunt sound that can be heard under/over a 16 piece big band, no problem; but I can also play whisper soft and gently (think Cecil Payne) as needed.

An alternative that comes up as a possible "big sound" low A is the Keilwerth H Couf baritone. These come up occasionally for sale and for not too much money.

Has anyone here played both a Conn and a Couf, and can comment on the tonal comparison? Keywork you get used to with practice, but there's only so much you can do to change the basic tonal quality of an instrument.
 

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So you sound like you love your 12M. Why consider changing? What are the issues you are seeing with the Conn?
Hey, watch it! That is not the true spirit of SotW.

Turf3, we are with ya. You NEED another horn. :twisted:
 

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Discussion Starter #5
So you sound like you love your 12M. Why consider changing? What are the issues you are seeing with the Conn?
It only goes down to Bb.

I have gotten along over 30 years without the A, but there are times when it would be a nice thing to have.

Just thinkin'.
 

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I had a Low A Couf that was amazing. It was the richest and most powerful bari I've played. It sounded like velvet. I had a few 60s 12Ms and a 40s 10m. The Conns were nice, but the Couf makes everything else seem harsh by comparison. I haven't played your specific bari though.
 

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I had a 36 12m for quite a while.
I sold it recently but still really miss it.
There’s something about the early 12m Baritones that I haven’t been able to find in a low A.
The 11m has some of it, though I found mine was harsher/brighter sounding than the 12m.
I’ve not tried the Keilwerth/Couf Low A’s, but I did own a King tempo Low Bb for a while and it was a nice enough horn.
I don’t rate them as highly as many do but mine was not in the greatest of condition and I always had problems with the body octave pip mechanism.
As a second horn to your 12m it would be worth considering but not as a replacement for it.
I imagine a low A The Martin would be a nice accompaniment to the 12m (if they’re anything like the Low Bb Martins).
 

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The 11Ms are pretty harsh and generally unpleasant. I just picked up a b flat Couf that needs significant work but sounds amazing when it works. Having the low A on my old Couf was nice, but the b flat horn is fairly heavy as it is, and the low a was a beast. I could literally shake the house with the low A though...I'm trying not to miss it.
 

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The 11Ms are pretty harsh and generally unpleasant. I just picked up a b flat Couf that needs significant work but sounds amazing when it works. Having the low A on my old Couf was nice, but the b flat horn is fairly heavy as it is, and the low a was a beast. I could literally shake the house with the low A though...I'm trying not to miss it.
"Harsh and Unpleasant " ???? An 11M sounds exactly like a 12M, and that tone is very seldom characterized in such a fashion :|

They are quite literally a 12M with a bell extension, and the body, bow, neck specs never changed from the 30's up until their run ended in the 90's. Variability between individual horns exist of course, but if one placed a 12 and 11M in a side by side, I would be going out on the tiniest of limbs in saying that 90%+ of the time their tones would be indistinguishable from one another.

To put it another way, the sonic variability of a 12 from an 11M is no different than the sonic variability between two separate 12's....

Actually, a JK-made baritone ....compared to a classic Conn... is narrower and brighter in tone. People assume that since JK altos/tenors are so dark, their bighorns must also be, but having refurbed over 20 (both low A's and low Bb's), I think most folks would agree in a side-by-side it is the Conns which are the darker and wider toned baritones, while the JK's - although sonically quite nice - are more focused, not as spread, and significantly reedier.

Just my observations. Everyone's ear is different of course.

Ergo wise a JK/Couf is more easily navigable, yes. But sonically not quite possessing the cojones of the Conns.
 

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The 11Ms are pretty harsh and generally unpleasant. I just picked up a b flat Couf that needs significant work but sounds amazing when it works. Having the low A on my old Couf was nice, but the b flat horn is fairly heavy as it is, and the low a was a beast. I could literally shake the house with the low A though...I'm trying not to miss it.
"Harsh and Unpleasant " ???? An 11M sounds exactly like a 12M, and that tone is very seldom characterized in such a fashion


They are quite literally a 12M with a bell extension, and the body, bow, neck specs never changed from the 30's up until their run ended in the 90's. Variability between individual horns exist of course, but if one placed a 12 and 11M in a side by side, I would be going out on the tiniest of limbs in saying that 90%+ of the time their tones would be indistinguishable from one another.

To put it another way, the sonic variability of a 12 from an 11M is no different than the sonic variability between two separate 12's....

Actually, a JK-made baritone ....compared to a classic Conn... is narrower and brighter in tone. People assume that since JK altos/tenors are so dark, their bighorns must also be, but having refurbed over 20 (both low A's and low Bb's), I think most folks would agree in a side-by-side it is the Conns which are the darker and wider toned baritones, while the JK's - although sonically quite nice - are more focused, not as spread, and significantly reedier.

Just my observations. Everyone's ear is different of course.

Ergo wise a JK/Couf is more easily navigable, yes. But sonically not quite possessing the cojones of the Conns.
I only played one 11M, so I shouldn't have made that generalization. I had a later one for a short time, and to me it didn't sound anything like what I've been told an older 12M sounds like. I haven't played a Conn bari from before the mid 60's, but the ones I played seemed similar to my 1965 10M, which was nothing at all like my early 40's 10M. The 60's one was definitely brighter and edgier than the 40's with a cheaper feel. Maybe the 11M just didn't work well with the mouthpieces I had at the time, which I can't recall. When I had the low a Couf I was using an Erik Greiffenhagen double chamber piece, which made it sound huge and dark, so it may not be a fair comparison. I agree the Coufs are more focused and reedy, but I don't feel that they have a sharp treble like some horns.
 

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I've played one Couf, a handful of Keilwerths and a few Conns but not over a short enough time span to make any sort of relevant comparison. My experience in general is that any given set of Low A horns will be more similar to each other than to any Low Bb bari. So in some ways it doesn't make a lot of sense to compare a particular Low A to a particular Low Bb. I'd suggest you just try whatever Low A horns you have access to and go from there. You might be surprised which horn(s) you like best or that you really don't like any of them. Lots of guys who have played Low Bb baris as extensively and for as long as you have find they just don't like Low A baris at all.
 

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I only played one 11M, so I shouldn't have made that generalization. I had a later one for a short time, and to me it didn't sound anything like what I've been told an older 12M sounds like. I haven't played a Conn bari from before the mid 60's, but the ones I played seemed similar to my 1965 10M, which was nothing at all like my early 40's 10M. The 60's one was definitely brighter and edgier than the 40's with a cheaper feel. Maybe the 11M just didn't work well with the mouthpieces I had at the time, which I can't recall. When I had the low a Couf I was using an Erik Greiffenhagen double chamber piece, which made it sound huge and dark, so it may not be a fair comparison. I agree the Coufs are more focused and reedy, but I don't feel that they have a sharp treble like some horns.
The 11m I had was a very late one stencilled with the Armstrong logo.
I think it was dated to the late 80's or early 90's from memory.
I found its tone quite different from the early (1936) Conn 12m that I had.
To my ear it was definitely a brighter tone, like the tone I'd associate with a Rock or R and B baritone sound.
The 12m seemed darker and more mellow to me.
They were certainly related in the way they sounded, but the difference was there for me anyway.
I also much preferred the feel of the 12m over the 11m.
I know the keywork is said not to have changed over the years, but they felt different to my hands.
 

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I only played one 11M, so I shouldn't have made that generalization. I had a later one for a short time, and to me it didn't sound anything like what I've been told an older 12M sounds like. I haven't played a Conn bari from before the mid 60's, but the ones I played seemed similar to my 1965 10M, which was nothing at all like my early 40's 10M. The 60's one was definitely brighter and edgier than the 40's with a cheaper feel. Maybe the 11M just didn't work well with the mouthpieces I had at the time, which I can't recall. When I had the low a Couf I was using an Erik Greiffenhagen double chamber piece, which made it sound huge and dark, so it may not be a fair comparison. I agree the Coufs are more focused and reedy, but I don't feel that they have a sharp treble like some horns.
The 11m I had was a very late one stencilled with the Armstrong logo.
I think it was dated to the late 80's or early 90's from memory.
I found its tone quite different from the early (1936) Conn 12m that I had.
To my ear it was definitely a brighter tone, like the tone I'd associate with a Rock or R and B baritone sound.
The 12m seemed darker and more mellow to me.
They were certainly related in the way they sounded, but the difference was there for me anyway.
I also much preferred the feel of the 12m over the 11m.
I know the keywork is said not to have changed over the years, but they felt different to my hands.
I liked the edge of the 11M at first, but it quickly wore on me. I agree if I was playing rock and R&B it would have worked, but to me it was too much. My repairman friend wanted to buy it from me until he tried it out, and he basically gagged. His favorite baris of all time are earlier 12M's. The design may not have changed much, but to me, the quality of metals seemed inferior to most vintage baris I've played. I only paid about a grand for it though, which is good for any low a. I'm sure with the right mouthpiece it could have been decent but, but for me it wasn't really a joy to play.
 

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One observation which I think is fair to make upon reading these comments - I think the question here becomes the differences between a pre-war Conn and a late one, really...as opposed to necessarily an 11M vs. a 12M.

I can also attest to the fact that, regarding the 'things changed' venue of discussion, having torn down and rebuilt hundreds of Conns, the reality is the specifications of their horns (disregarding the change from RTH to straight, lacq key finish to nickel, and the 10M octave mech change to underslung) remained consistent from the 30's to the 70's. I am not making this up, I have actually caliper measured the bodies and necks of a lot of specimens.

That a 90's UMI 11M ...would not play like a '68 Elkhart one... and that a '68 Elkhart 11M would not play like a 40's 12M....are observations which are valid; I in no way doubt those impressions.

But it was not the physical design of the instruments which were the variable factors...I feel pretty confident to conclude.

The UMI-Conn horns were produced long after the ol' Elkhart factory ceased, built to the same specifications but built in what was either Nogales AZ, or at the Armstrong plant in Elkhart, and a significant portion of the tooling in those locations was highly likely to be contemporary 80's-90's tooling as opposed to tooling which had existed in the late 50's-early 60's somehow survived two cross-border moves in 30+ years.

Looking at Conn-Conn alone - The tooling and workers and indeed the fabrication modus operandi present in the '39 Elkhart plant vs. the tooling and workers present in at the same plant in '67...are highly unlikely to have been the same.

But it isn't the spec of the instrument models which changed.

Final comment...only because, again, Saxbass...you chose to use the term 'gagged'...which again I find over-the-top.

I think I have refurbed a dozen of these at least. In my book, a well-set-up 11M, meaning all of the regular wear and tear addressed, the regulations set, spring tensions set nicely, leaks out, keyheights set, keys swedged, etc...basically everything attended to which in most vintage horns of any brand would probably be neglected up until the time it might come into someone's hands....is still a pretty darn good vintage Low A. Perhaps not everyone's cup of tea, just as the 12M ( a model which I honestly think is overrated and always has been, from a design and action standpoint ) wouldn't be everyone's cup if looking for a Low Bb.

 

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One observation which I think is fair to make upon reading these comments - I think the question here becomes the differences between a pre-war Conn and a late one, really...as opposed to necessarily an 11M vs. a 12M.

I can also attest to the fact that, regarding the 'things changed' venue of discussion, having torn down and rebuilt hundreds of Conns, the reality is the specifications of their horns (disregarding the change from RTH to straight, lacq key finish to nickel, and the 10M octave mech change to underslung) remained consistent from the 30's to the 70's. I am not making this up, I have actually caliper measured the bodies and necks of a lot of specimens.

That a 90's UMI 11M ...would not play like a '68 Elkhart one... and that a '68 Elkhart 11M would not play like a 40's 12M....are observations which are valid; I in no way doubt those impressions.

But it was not the physical design of the instruments which were the variable factors...I feel pretty confident to conclude.

The UMI-Conn horns were produced long after the ol' Elkhart factory ceased, built to the same specifications but built in what was either Nogales AZ, or at the Armstrong plant in Elkhart, and a significant portion of the tooling in those locations was highly likely to be contemporary 80's-90's tooling as opposed to tooling which had existed in the late 50's-early 60's somehow survived two cross-border moves in 30+ years.

Looking at Conn-Conn alone - The tooling and workers and indeed the fabrication modus operandi present in the '39 Elkhart plant vs. the tooling and workers present in at the same plant in '67...are highly unlikely to have been the same.

But it isn't the spec of the instrument models which changed.

Final comment...only because, again, Saxbass...you chose to use the term 'gagged'...which again I find over-the-top.

I think I have refurbed a dozen of these at least. In my book, a well-set-up 11M, meaning all of the regular wear and tear addressed, the regulations set, spring tensions set nicely, leaks out, keyheights set, keys swedged, etc...basically everything attended to which in most vintage horns of any brand would probably be neglected up until the time it might come into someone's hands....is still a pretty darn good vintage Low A. Perhaps not everyone's cup of tea, just as the 12M ( a model which I honestly think is overrated and always has been, from a design and action standpoint ) wouldn't be everyone's cup if looking for a Low Bb.
Yeah, I should have left out the gagged comment, but it's really what he did. We both prefer mellower horns in general though, so it's not really fair. He disliked it more than me, but I was still glad to get rid of it. It was several years ago, so I might feel different if I tried one again now. For the price it was a deal, and I'm sure it could work well for a lot of people in the right situation.
 
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